Today’s internet-focused world is obsessed with sharing– their location, what they are eating for dinner, and images. The prevalence of social media has caused the amount of images shared daily to skyrocket. On Facebook alone, there are over 350 million photos uploaded per day. But social media users beware, once a picture is published, it’s likely online for good.

Why It’s Important to Pay Attention to Image Search

For some influential individuals, a Google search of their name can return a diverse set of results. There could be a knowledge graph, displaying photos and biographical information, and links to personal websites and In the News results if there are current news articles to display. Depending on the intent of the searched phrase, images can appear prominently in your results. For some individuals, the returned images could be damaging to their reputation if there are negative in nature. Depending on the source, you may not have the means to remove the image.

Some people believe they can simply hide their images on social media from other users as a way to preserve their reputation, but it’s important to be aware of the specific site’s terms of use. Social media site’s terms of service typically states that the site doesn’t have ownership of content published, but they may act as a licensee and have the right to use any content you publish for their own use, including images. On Twitter’s Terms of Service page, the site states, “You should only provide Content that you are comfortable sharing with others.” Twitter goes on to state that the site cannot guarantee the accuracy or reliability of the information shared by their users. If unsavory images of an individual spreads and negatively impact their online reputation, Twitter says they assume no responsibility and do not police the content posted to their site.

Depending on the individual, Internet users can take screenshots and are likely to do so if the photo is of a public, influential figure. Many times, other users will share the photos from additional social media accounts causing the image to stay online, be manipulated and continue to add to a story you may want to keep off of the internet. If a story continues to trend beyond social media, the image could also wind up on news stories, and subsequently YouTube videos of the news story, news articles, review sites, etc.

Take Action Against Unsatisfactory Results

The best course of action as an individual is to be acutely aware of the types of images you are sharing online and the context around the images. The best way to avoid an unsavory situation is to be aware of your image online and to actively monitor your search results. However, some situations are unavoidable and subsequent results online may be complex and require a custom plan to resolve the issue and protect your digital reputation.